Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 14:35 UK

Overweight to be paid to get slim

Volunteers will receive shopping vouchers as they lose weight on a new scheme in Essex.

The Pound-for-Pound project, which starts in September, will give dieters a £1 voucher for healthy food for every 1lb they lose.

The three-month pilot will be offered to 100 overweight volunteers.

Basildon District Council, which is running and funding the project, said the vouchers would be an "encouragement" and help motivation.

People who complete the project will be given a book of vouchers at the end of the three months, which will be redeemable against healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables, at supermarket Asda.

'Keep motivated'

The joint initiative with NHS South West Essex is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK and will include advice on how to lose weight and a weigh-in.

A council spokesman said volunteers will be weighed to check on their progress and the closer they get to their target weight, they will receive the store vouchers for healthier food options.

"We hope to get people going in the right direction, there isn't a massive cash prize at the end but a book of vouchers. It's an encouragement, almost, to keep people motivated," the spokesman said.

He added that 35 volunteers had already come forward from the Basildon area.

Pound-for-Pound is part of the council's Get Out There Basildon! scheme promoting 50 different activities for a healthier lifestyle.

The council said it had set aside £1,000 from its commercial advertising revenue to fund the pilot.

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